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Ghosts from Berkshire Places
Beginning with 'W'

Wallingford

The ‘George’ Inn is a very ancient pub with many a story to tell. The best known is that surrounding the so-called ‘Tear-Drop Room’. This guest-bedroom is has a wall hand decorated all over with what are either tears or pears. It is said they were painted by a distraught landlord’s daughter who had been confined in the room for her own safety. The poor girl had gone completely round the bend, upon hearing of the murder of her lover. She apparently mixed soot from the fireplace with her tears and used her finger to draw the only shape she could think of on the wall. One hotel guest was woken in the night by a very life-like young woman with tears streaming down her face. She turned and disappeared into the tear-drop wall. The witness had no prior knowledge of the old story.

In Room 5 at the same inn, several guests are reported to have seen the ghosts of two young children standing by the Wash Basin.

The cellars have also produced the phenomenon known as ‘instant replay’ or ‘delayed echo’. After having replaced all the bungs in the beer-barrels one night, the barman locked the cellar door, only to hear, from the other side, the sound of the bungs being tapped again.

Warfield

Colonel John Walsh of Warfield Park is recorded to have shot a highwayman on Ascot Heath on his way home and thought nothing more of it than of shooting crows. His ghost pursues his mistress, Rachel’s ghost down Jock’s Lane. This lady had drowned herself, in the lake in the park which was later named after her, because John had moved on to a new lady-friend. She is often seen wandering through Warfield Park amongst the park homes of today.

In 1874, the local villagers had somehow got it into their heads that the well-loved Lady Ormathwaite of Warfield Park was being mistreated by her husband; and they set about organising the rustic revenge of a ‘tin-canning’. A large group gathered together and marched along Forest Road up to the park, banging saucepans and making a great hullabaloo in order to embarrass his Lordship into repentance. They were quickly chased away, but on the night of every 28th October, their spectral procession appears to re-enact these extraordinary events near the ‘Plough & Harrow’. They are led by a club-footed boy in a bright-red military-style tunic, banging a drum and accompanied by his pet monkey!

The ‘Yorkshire Rose’ Restaurant is claimed to stand on the site of a medieval hostel run by a small group of monks for pilgrims travelling through Windsor Forest. This is remembered in nearby Priory Road. The ghostly presence in the building is, not surprisingly, a cowled figure all in black. Mystical chanting has been heard in more recent years.

Wargrave

The ‘Bull’ at Wargrave was, for nine years, the home of the Gibbs family. Almost every year, at about the time of the Henley Regatta, they would hear crying coming from ‘Room 2’ at night. It was only after hearing this a number of times that they discovered the reason. The villagers revealed an old story that, in the 1820s, a former landlord had discovered that his wife was having an affair behind his back. He immediately threw her out on the street, forbidding her to return or see her young child. She died of a broken heart soon afterward, and her spirit returns every year on the anniversary of her ejection, sobbing as she packs her bags.

The Thames, behind the ‘George & Dragon,’ was once the site of a small ferry. In the winter of 1878, the Thames froze over and this became a popular spot for skating. A Captain Markham insisted that the ferryman take him and his sister across the river so they could join in. Reluctantly he agreed and, helped by his young daughter, he undertook the trip. But disaster struck and the ferry sank. The adults just managed to make it to the banks, but the little girl was drowned. Her spirit later was seen walking along the riverside path behind the old inn.

Lord Barrymore’s ghost haunts Barrymore House which more or less rebuilt in the High Street. He was a famous 18th century gambler, practical joker and theatre goer. In 1791, he even built a theatre in this tiny Berkshire village. Joking to the last, Barrymore’s ghost hides door keys and tries to push visitors down the stairs. He has a companion in the spirit of a lady in a grey silk dress. The swhooshing of her skirts are heard as she materialises amongst the distinct smell of lavender. Dogs will not go upstairs in the house.

The ghost of a ‘lady in white’ walks in Gaunt Cottage and through the wall to the adjoining building. This may be the Saxon Queen Emma who, tradition holds, had a place on the site. Read the Full Story.

Wargrave Manor is allegedly haunted. “Strange things happen in the night”.

Warren Row

In the long past, Bowsey Hill had an uncanny reputation, due possibly to its remoteness, and it was a favourite spot for the country folk to localise traditions of various kinds. Among these, one was prevalent around Reading to the effect that on the other side of the hill was the abode of lost souls. It was supposed to be the Clapham Junction of the Underworld and, the night a person died, their spirit would come here for judgement as to whether they would go up to heaven or down to hell. Anyone travelling there could ask the spirit one last question before it departed, and it would be compelled to answer truthfully. About 1825, a certain old inhabitant, who had an unenviable reputation in the village of Sonning, died early one summer morning. The same evening a labourer returning from his work at Charvil Farm and hearing the event, exclaimed "Ah, 'tis no more than I expected for I saw him go over the top of Bowsey Hill as I was going to work this morning". Its reputation had advantages and many a felon fleeing from the hands of justice is said to have secured temporary immunity in its haunted thickets.

Wash Common

The Falkland Memorial at the junction of Essex Street and Andover Road commemorates that Lord Falkland who lost his life in the First Battle of Newbury. His body was carried to Falkland Farm, now Falkland Garth, and local legend says that his ghost still haunts the place: a short man wearing black who disappears very quickly after being seen. Dogs will not sleep in the kitchen.

Water Oakley

The Victorian Gothic mansion of Oakley Court is well-known to cinema goers as St. Trinian’s School and both Dracula and Frankenstein’s Castle, for it stands next to Bray Studios, home of Hammer Horror. It was used by the French Resistance during the War, but those employed there complained of all manner of ghostly phenomena. In the 1950s, the place was left derelict for many years. The atmosphere around the building apparently became so oppressive that it caused a number of people to commit suicide in the Thames.

Welford

The ghost of the Lord of the Manor – probably one of the Archers or Eyres – gave so much trouble to the people of this village that, finally, they were forced to call in twelve priests to lay him to rest. He would only depart if given the two mice under the straw. Luckily for two locals hiding under the bales, the ministers offered him the two cocks in the roost instead. Read the full story.

West Hanney

A charming little thatched cottage, Bankside, is haunted by a ghost dressed in 16th century costume. He is six feet tall, looks about forty years old and has blonde hair. He wears white breeches, white hose and a white shirt. Across his waist (diagonally from his shoulder) he has a blue sash, which was probably used to hold his sword. He looks as if he has just come back from a war. Although he does no harm to anybody, many weird things happen through him. Sweets, biscuits and other such things may disappear only to be found in another place. Also milk bottle tops and other such things will suddenly fly across the room. Another eerie thing that happens in that house is that sometimes at night the stairs will creak one after another as though there is someone climbing them. Whenever he is there, visible or otherwise, there is an icy cold feeling.

West Hendred

There a few reports of the village ghost: a man killed in a road accident. Two sisters driving at night once saw a man in a cap and overcoat rush in front of the path of their car. Horrified, the driver braked and awaited the crash, but none came and the man had disappeared.

Windsor

In Victoria Street is a house only one room thick. The ghost of a woman accompanied by the smell of cloves haunts this building. Her favourite trick is to lock the doors and windows of rooms from within, so that the locksmith has to be called in.

Black Horse Yard was the stableyard of King Charles II’s physician. Clinking harnesses are said to be heard there and a coach and four is seen thundering out of the yard and up towards the castle whenever the monarch is dying. For the King is ill and his physician must attend! The only recorded instance, however, is of loud noises like furniture being moved around, coming from the cellar of nearby Gate House around the time of Edward VII’s death in 1910.

Curfew House, opposite the Curfew Tower, is haunted by the ghost of an old gossip who once lived there and worked at the castle. She had the unfortunate habit of telling tales on her colleagues and one of them soon decided she had gone too far and would have to be disposed of. He established an alibi by chatting to one of the guards for a little longer the usual before entering the castle which was then secured for the night. However, he immediately slipped away to the sally-port, a secret tunnel out of the castle used in times of siege. Back in the town again, he made his way to the old woman’s house and viscously threw her over the banisters. Although the prime suspect, the crime was never pinned on him and his victim cannot rest. One room is particularly oppressive, while some visitors have themselves been overwhelmed by an urge to end it all in the same manner as the unfortunate spirit was forced.

A house in Thames Street, now a shop, was once part of a Tudor inn which housed many guests to the castle. Shoppers feel a slight push in the back when no-one is there. The adjoining property was incorporated into the same inn and the home of the Deacon family from 1916. Mrs. Deacon saw visions of Cardinal Wolsey in the house twice at noon on Easter Thursday, though some ten years apart. He appeared in his red robes and cardinal’s hat, wringing his hands and pacing with head down as if in deep thought. He walked right through bed in one of the Tudor bedrooms. It is suggested that he fled to the old inn after being dismissed by King Henry VIII. Another ghost, given the name ‘Fred,’ was a priest or monk in a brown cowl, seemingly searching for something. More alarming were terrifying dreams of being attacked and strangled by a horrible old man which plagued several family members until a medieval cooking pot containing a baby’s bones was discovered in the cellar and reburied in consecrated ground.

A man in a cap and gown (or coachman’s cloak) haunts No.1 Thames Street and, probably a different ghost, used to raise his straw hat and smile at the residents. The former mat be the Hawaiian Chieftain who visited George III and died in this building in the days when it was an inn. The usual mysterious footsteps have been heard and there are areas in the house which dogs react badly to.

The old Theatre Royal in Thames Street was burnt down in 1908, when a young girl, named Charlotte, died in the blaze. Her ghost now haunts the present theatre rebuilt on the same site.

Sir Christopher Wren’s House on the approach to Eton Bridge has no proof that it was either owned or designed by the great man, but it is certainly a fine example of early 18th century architecture. It has had the reputation as a haunted house for many decades, if not centuries. The servants of one tenant, Baroness Vaux, refused to stay in the building and local substitutes had to be sought instead. The ghost is particularly associated with one of the smaller guest rooms up the back staircase. One witness described it as a tall figure of a man, but with no associated menace.

The Georgian ‘Anne Foord’s House’ in Park Street is haunted by the ghost of a monk, nicknamed ‘Thomas,’ who walks around the upper floors and descends the staircase. He is rarely seen but objects have been heard being moved about the house and a little bell rings to sound early morning prayers. Residents have also had the feeling of being watched.

Footsteps heard on the stairs were commonplace at the 18th century Hadleigh House in Sheet Street. Once, the drawing-room door was inexplicable bolted from the inside and had to be broken into with some difficulty. Loud knockings and the distinct smell of clove carnations have manifested themselves in the dining-room and elsewhere.

The first floor landing of Old Institute House in Sheet Street is prone to sudden drops in temperature. The owner of the top floor flat was visited one night by the figure of a man of five foot six, who disappeared when he turned the light on. He was tanned or dark skinned and may have been stark naked, for he glistened in the moonlight. His eyes were most remarkable for they large and wide open. It is suggested that he saw a leper from the old pest house at the bottom of the street. From his garden, the same witness once saw a group of phantoms dressed in long cloaks and gowns, the last of whom certainly wore a tall black Puritan hat and white collar. They were probably associated with the demolished Abbey House.

The old Pest House itself, at 29 Sheet Street, was haunted by the spirit of a very thin old man nicknamed ‘George’. He wore a dark cloak and appeared most often ascending the stairs, heading of a certain spare bedroom where the door had to always be kept open. At night, objects on a shelf would be re-arranged and hats knocked off their hooks.

The tiny ‘Anne Page’s Cottage,’ tucked behind the High Street, was thought to be haunted by a number of spirits during the Second World War. Rustling skirts were heard in the panelled sitting-room and of the two other ghosts, one was hostile and the other friendly.

Ghostly footsteps travelling upstairs are heard at ‘Elizabethan House’ in Peascod Street, followed by a distinct drop in temperature.

A ghostly figure wearing ‘a stiff white collar and a hat like a Quaker with long flowing hair and a beard’ haunts the Engine House Restaurant in Church Lane. Again there are footsteps heard upstairs.

In the 19th century, Travers College – St. George’s Choristers’ School – in Datchet Road was a charitable home for six poor retired naval officers and their governor. The place was closed in 1892, but the spirit of the last governor, an admiral, has refused to leave the premises.

The upper floor of the old New British Schools building in Victoria Road was haunted by the footsteps of Joseph Chariott, the Victorian philanthropist who built the place.

A 1920s style man in a cap once appeared in broad daylight in the garden of an old Georgian House in Gloucester Place. He disappeared into thin air a short distant from the resident. The tinkle of bells was also sometimes heard in the house.

Two men driving down St. Leonard’s Road towards King Edward VIII Hospital thought they had hit a woman who appeared in front of their car, though they felt no bump. Upon stopping to check, they found that there was no-one about.

The old operating theatre at King Edward VIII Hospital is said to be haunted by Sir Joseph Skeffington, the well-known surgeon.

Nurses’ Quarters at Castle Hill House and a house in Frances Road are also said to be haunted.

Long Walk House in King’s Road was haunted, at the back, by a ghostly lady; but it has now been demolished.

Trinity Place was the scene of a gruesome murder during the Second World War when a woman was strangled there. Years later, a resident felt a ghostly hand on her shoulder when going to bed, yet there was no-one there.

What used to be the Playhouse Cinema was treated to the sound of running footsteps and sudden drops in temperature, as well as sightings of a ghostly woman in a long dress. These phenomena are thought to be related to a the murder of a woman in a shop which used to stand on the site.

In the 1920s, a house in Vansittart Road was disturbed by footsteps heard on the stairs at night and mysterious knockings at the front door. The inhabitants learnt to live with it.

A large house towards the Great Park, named Maidlea Cottage, has a very hostile atmosphere. The ghost of a tall man in a dark cloak has been seen by some guests. The end of the garden has manifested the sounds of the clash of weapons on armour in battle and there are rumours of a skirmish between Celts and Romans in the area.

The Castle has many ghosts. Henry VIII haunts the deanery cloisters, where his groans and dragging footsteps are heard. Elizabeth I haunts the Royal Library and is said to have been seen by several members of the Royal family. The sound of her high heels are heard on bare floorboards, before her imposing figure appears and passes through the library and into an inner room. The sad face of mad King George III is seen peering from the window in the room where he was often detained. Charles I haunts a Canon’s House in the castle precincts. The Deanery is haunted by a young boy who shouts, “I don’t want to go riding today”. It is probably his footsteps which are heard in the same building. The ‘Prison Room’ in the Norman Tower is haunted, possibly by a former Royalist prisoner from Civil War times. Children playing there have seen him and adults have felt him brush past. The kitchen of one of the buildings which make up the horseshoe cloisters is haunted by a man leading a horse. They walk straight through the wall, for the cloisters were once the cavalry stables. A young girl has also been seen here, standing by a Christmas Tree. Ghostly footsteps are heard on the staircase in the Curfew Tower and, on one occasion, the bells began to swing on the own while the temperature became distinctly chilly. In 1873, a night-time visitor to the castle noticed an interesting new statuary group had been erected near St. George’s Chapel: three standing figures, all in black, and a fourth crouching down. The central standing character was in the act of striking with a large sword. The sentry knew nothing of this artwork and when the visitor return to re-examine it, it had gone! There is also the ghost of the Duke of Buckingham’s father, William of Wykeham (the building’s architect) and, of course, the famous Herne the Hunter who is more often seen in the Great Park. Read the full story.

Windsor Great Park

The Long Walk is haunted by the ghost of a young Grenadier Guard who shot himself while on duty there in the 1920s. He was seen by at least two of his colleagues, immediately after his death.

Herne the Hunter became the favourite huntsman of King Richard II when he saved the monarch from being mauled to death by a cornered stag. Being wounded in the process, he was later healed through witchcraft and the wearing of the stag’s antlers. Unfortunately though, his subsequent friendship with the King and skill in the field, bred jealousy in his colleagues and he was framed for theft. Shame led him to hang himself on ‘Herne’s Oak’ in the Home Park and, with a Wild Hunt, his spirit has since been seen many times careering across the Great Park searching for lost souls. Read the full story.

Winkfield

Nobbscrook Farm behind Drift Road was haunted by a woman in a mob cap who walked the corridors at night. Horses would not pass a pond in the grounds.

Orchard Lea in Drift Road has an oppressive atmosphere in the bedrooms on the top floor. This is somehow related to a fight between two brothers in the house which eventually led to one of them being drowned in a lake outside.

Westfield House at Lambrook-Haileybury School has a number of reported ghosts: a vast Red-Indian figure standing guard beside a particular bed in an upstairs dormitory; a crying woman, heard but not seen in the attic flat; and a black dog that wanders the grounds.

Winterbourne

The daughter of Philip Weston of Bussock House, a great Royalist, fell in love with a smart Roundhead officer. Her father arranged to send her news after the Battle of Newbury by trumpet - one blast if he were killed, two if her lover were killed and three if both were killed. Waiting by her open window, her anxious ears discerned three blasts. With both father and lover gone, what had life to offer? She sought peace in death by casting herself down the well. Since that fateful day, her ghost has haunted the place. A slight variance of this story says that she ran out of the house on hearing the three trumpet blasts and accidentally fell down the open well.

A phantom horse and rider haunts nearby Bussock Hill where he was killed in a riding accident.

Wokingham

King’s Head in Wokingham is said to be haunted by an 18th century gentleman in a full-bottomed wig.

In the mid-17th century, a young girl, impregnated and then jilted by her lover, hanged herself in a bedroom of the Old Rose Inn. Her spirit used to walk silently through the hotel rooms. This was not at the present building but one which stood on the site of the Co-op.

Froghall, alias Waterloo Lodge, a Queen Anne style house was said to be haunted by a lady with a spinet. The family who once lived there, however, only saw the ghost of an elderly man. He liked to rearrange the ornaments on the mantelpiece and his footsteps were also heard upstairs. More recently he seems to have become fixated upon a certain door in the building which opens at will.

The A329 is haunted, at a point outside the ‘Three Frogs,’ by the old London Coach which disappeared in the area.

In 1979, modern offices owned by the Council were thought to be haunted by a man in grey who slapped the cleaners on the bottom. However, investigation revealed the ghost to be a coat stand and the slaps, a discharge of static electricity in the new carpets!

Poltergeist-like disturbances have occurred in a certain ground-floor flat in Wokingham since the Summer of 1993. Cups flew out of cupboards and smashed on the floor and the pet parrots awoke the household in a terrible commotion accompanied by strange sliding temperature: one minute uncomfortably hot, then shockingly cold before returning to normal. A year later, the family lodger died, yet those left behind continued to feel his presence in the flat and smell his aftershave. Flying cups and saucers have increased, objects have been inexplicably thrown off the fridge and a silver tray will not stay in its cupboard. The key to the back door has been known to swing uncontrollably on its hook, despite having been placed there most gently; while the cat will no-longer sleep in the kitchen.

Woodley

Bulmershe Manor is reputedly haunted.

Wooley Green

Wooley Firs, alias the White House, is haunted by a ghostly coach and four helping a former resident to elope.

Woolhampton

A certain Miss. W…. died at the old Catholic College, now Douai Abbey School, in the 1850s. The room in which she passed away was, afterwards, given to manifestations of the lady in her grave clothes, both to those who knew her and those who did not. The latter sometimes thought she was one of the servants in a night-dress. The ‘Ghost Room’ was later converted into a store-room and the lady’s spirit was subsequently seen many times by the schoolboys, before the building was finally pulled down.

The attic of Woolhampton House, now a school, was always said to be haunted.

 
 

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.